Films & Videos

February 5 – 7, 2015
Virtual Uprisings: Tahrir Square

Vienna: A Global City

Cities: Traditional Environments

Cinema: An Archive of the City

Rethinking Global Cities: Infrastructure

Rethinking Global Cities: Chair Roundtable


September 2 (Tues.): Nowhere to Call Home: A Tibetan in Beijing, Richard White Auditorium @ 7 PM

Intro: Ralph Litzinger (Duke Univ.); Q&A with the film director, Jocelyn Ford.

Co-presented with Cine-East: East Asian Cinema film series.

Nowhere to Call Home provides a rare and intimate glimpse into the world of a Tibetan farmer, torn between her traditional way of life and her desire for her son to have a better future in the city. Filmed in the slums of Beijing and a remote village, this gripping story of a woman determined to beat the odds puts a human face on the political strife that fractures China and Tibet. Along the way, it challenges common stereotypes about Tibetans and reveals a dark side of life in a traditional village, where, as the local saying goes women “aren’t worth a penny.”


September 29 (Mon.): The Battle for Johannesburg, Griffith @ 7 PM

Intro & Discusion: Anne-Maria Makhulu (Duke Univ.)

In the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, the long-running struggle for control of central Jozi intensified. But, as this film demonstrates, ambitious urban renewal projects aimed at transforming the mean streets into a “World Class city” haven’t made much headway against endemic crime, and a burgeoning population of poor migrants occupying crumbling tenements. Desai turns investigative reporter as he exposes the brutality of evictions, police raids and self-appointed landlords, the appalling living conditions of the residents, and the lofty ambitions of property developers hoping to transform derelict buildings into islands of security and comfort among the deprivation and decay. What he discovers is that the battle for Jozi is less about development than an attack on the poorest of society.


October 7 (Tues.): Bay of All Saints, Full Frame Theater, American Tobacco Campus @ 7 PM

Intro & Discussion: Miguel Rojas-Sotelo (Duke Univ.)

Co-presented with NC Latin American Film Festival.

In Salvador, Bahia, next to one of Brazil’s wealthiest cities, generations of impoverished families have lived in a community of palafitas, shacks built on stilts over the ocean bay. Under a government program to reclaim and restore the bay, hundreds of families face forced relocation.  The stories of Geni, Jesus, and Doña Maria, three single mothers and their families shape this film’s narrative as they confront uncertainty and insecurity. Each woman offers a perspective of hope and self-determination, often graced by humor, in facing frequently dire circumstances. As their community is almost completely torn down and paved over, each begins to fight anew for the future. Filmed over six years, this extraordinary documentary offers fresh insights into environmental justice and notions of home for citizens bypassed by Brazil’s economic boom. With the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics ahead, this is an essential film for understanding a country that is in the world spotlight.


October 20 (Mon.): Beijing Besieged by Waste, Griffith @ 7 PM

Intro & Discussion: Calvin Hui (College of William & Mary)

An informative and alarming portrait of urban ecology, the film has earned keen Chinese media coverage and the attention of government officials. With a population of about 20 million, the growing city of Beijing produces 30,000 tons of waste each day. Photographer/filmmaker Wang Jiuliang traveled around the city and visited 460 legal and illegal landfills from 2008 to 2010 to document the collection of garbage and excrement, the environmental calamity and the life cycles around these landfills, which include scavengers building a precarious livelihood, green spaces forming on top of waste, and livestock being fed trash.


November 17 (Mon.): Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits/Istanbul, Griffith @ 7 PM

Intro & Discussion: Erdağ Göknar (Duke Univ.)

Ecumenopolis offers a chilling vision of a city that has exhausted its natural, physical and spatial resources, that nonetheless keeps on growing, apparently, without limits. It follows the story of a migrant family from the demolition of their neighborhood to their ongoing struggle for housing rights. We see the city at the macro level and through the eyes of experts, going from the tops of mushrooming skyscrapers to the depths of the railway tunnel under the Bosphorous strait; from the historic neighborhoods in the south to the forests in the north; from isolated islands of poverty to the villas of the rich. It’s an Istanbul going from 15 million to 30 million, and from 2 million cars to 8 million. It’s the Istanbul of the future that will soon engulf the entire region, an Istanbul nobody has ever seen before.


January 28 (Wed): City of Life,  Griffith @ 7 PM

Intro & discussion: miriam cooke (Duke)

City of Life is a 2009 multilingual Emirati film written, directed, and produced by Ali F. Mostafa. Set in the United Arab Emirates, the film revolves around three parallel lives, amongst many cultures in one city, namely, Dubai.


February 16 (Mon): The City without Jews  & 5 short films from the Austrian Film Museum, Griffith @ 7 PM

Intro & discussion: Ingo Zeichner

Die Stadt ohne Juden (The City Without Jews) is an Austrian Expressionist film made in 1924 by H. K. Breslauer, based on the book of the same title by Hugo Bettauer. The film is one of the few surviving Expressionist films from Austria, and has therefore been well researched. The film was first shown on 25 July 1924 in Vienna.


March 23 (Mon): The Lunchbox,  Griffith @ 7 PM

Intro & discussion: Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke)

The Lunchbox is a 2013 Indian epistolary romantic film written and directed by Ritesh Barta. Saajan is a lonely accountant about to retire from his job. Ila is a young wife seeking her husband’s attention, looking for ways to put romance back in her marriage, and tries to cook her way to her husband’s heart. A neighbour who lives in the apartment above her gives her advice on cooking and marriage through shouted instructions.


April 20 (Mon): Trash,   Griffith @ 7 PM

Intro & discussion: Miguel Rojas-Sotelo (Duke)

Trash is a 2014 Brazilian-British adventure drama film directed by Stephen Daldry and written by Richard Curtis, based on a 2010 novel of same name by Andy Mulligan. The film is set in an unnamed city where teenagers Raphael, Gardo and Rat spend their time picking through litter in the hope of finding useful waste. One day they discover a wallet whose contents will bring them into conflict with the brutal local police force as they find themselves unlikely whistleblowers in a city rife with corruption.

A Duke project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's "Partnership in a Global Age"